TA Spotlight: Will Johnson

Will Johnson

Will Johnson is a TA for CS 6300: Software Development Process and CS 6400: Database Systems Concepts and Design. Keep reading to learn more about Will!

What do you do professionally?

I am a professional retired person. It is a long, grueling career, but somehow I managed to work up the energy to sleep in until about 9:30, and then laze about the house until I feel like going out to do something to amuse myself. I was laid off from my day job last June, but largely because when the impending layoffs were announced, I told my boss that I knew we had several people on staff who had small children or kids in college who really couldn't afford to be without a job, and so if he needed to pick someone, I'd be OK if I got selected.

Why do you TA for OMSCS?

I started the program in Summer of 2014 in Alex Orso's CS 6300: Software Development Process and had such a great time that in the Fall, I volunteered to become a TA. At that point, they had no OMS-based TAs—all of the TAs were masters students on campus. There were, I think, four or five of us in that first semester of OMS-based TAs, and we were very much on a trial basis; the professors weren't entirely sure how to deal with people they couldn't actually drag into weekly in-person grading meetings. But it all seems to have worked out. A few semesters later, I saw that Leo Mark was putting together the CS 6400: Database Systems Concepts and Design class for OMS, and so I got involved with him getting it all set up and was the head TA from its inception. I've been TA-ing ever since, except that in December 2021 there was some family stress, so I stepped back. I rejoined in Fall of 2022, but now with new blood as head TA in both classes (which is good—I think things had stagnated, and the new blood in both cases has reinvigorated things. I'm not at all upset about no longer being head TA. I'll do it again if needed, but I'm happy to let others take a turn at the helm!).

What is your advice for future OMSCS students?

My advice to students is... hard to decide, really, because if I've learned anything, it's that people have wildly different modes of learning. For example, I happen to be mildly dyslexic, so while I can use books as reference material, I don't do well when just handed a text to read and learn from. So for me, the best way to get through the program is to watch the lectures and do the exercises. But that might not be what works best for you.

What are your hobbies outside of OMSCS?

As to my hobbies outside of OMS, now that I'm retired, I'm spending a lot of my time singing with my barbershop quartet, Joyride. We are the reigning Northeast District Seniors champion quartet and enjoy singing a variety of songs (mostly barbershop style, because we are officially a quartet within the Barbershop Harmony Society), but we also enjoy some other a cappella music of different styles. Other than that, my wife and I are beginning to plan a lot of traveling. She will be retiring from her job at the end of this school year, and so we're trying to make up for the fact that neither of us has seen a particularly large percentage of our world.

Check out Will's barbershop quartet at https://www.facebook.com/JoyrideBBS/!